What’s next for Matthew Stafford after his Detroit Lions trade request?
Rodney Harrison has one particular team in mind.
The former New England safety and current NBC Sports analyst said the Patriots — who are in the quarterback market this offseason — would be an excellent fit for the longtime Lions star.
“I would say New England is a perfect choice for him,” Harrison said on “Safety Blitz” with Jac Collinsworth, via NBC Sports Boston. “He can go in there — they have a good defense, they’re gonna add a couple more guys. They can build on the offense and go draft an offensive player, pick up some guys in free agency.”
The Patriots currently have just two QBs under contract for the 2021 season (Jarrett Stidham and practice squadder Jake Dolegala). Harrison believes the soon-to-be 33-year-old Stafford would be a clear upgrade over 2020 starter Cam Newton, who struggled as a passer amid unfavorable circumstances.
“Matthew Stafford has never been considered a leader, but they don’t need his leadership,” Harrison said. “They need him to throw the ball and make completions down the field. They have enough leadership, they have Bill (Belichick), they have some of those older veterans on the defensive side of the ball. They have a good offensive line that can protect him. They have a run game.
“Bill needs to add another tight end and go get another couple wide receivers and spend some money in free agency. But I think Matthew Stafford could be a perfect fit there because they don’t need him to come in and galvanize everybody like (Tom) Brady did. They just need him to complete some passes and not throw it into the ground like Cam does every other throw.”
The Patriots are one of several potential Stafford suitors — a list that also includes the Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers and others. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported Monday that Stafford “most definitely has his eyes on” the Colts, who lost Philip Rivers to retirement last week.
With more than $60 million in projected salary cap space, New England easily could fit Stafford’s $20 million salary next season, assuming it would be willing to pay the necessary price to acquire him.
Stafford started all 16 games for Detroit in 2020, completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 4,084 yards and 26 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.